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Obama's talk with Mormon leaders is latest in long string of closed-off meetings, media group says

Published April 6, 2015 8:21 pm

Politics • The latest example involves president's sit-down with leaders of the LDS Church.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The White House Correspondents' Association is drafting a list of demands for better press access to President Barack Obama to combat a continued trend of closed-off or limited opportunities to observe the president's meetings ­— the latest being a sit-down with leaders of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City.

The association, which represents journalists who regularly cover the president, has been working for almost a year on ways to ensure reporters are allowed to view meetings that are sometimes limited to only still photographers, or completely shut to the news media altogether.

The latest example: Obama met with top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he arrived at his hotel in Salt Lake City last Thursday but the White House only allowed a small group of pool photographers to view the meeting.



A Salt Lake Tribune photographer, for example, was permitted to shoot photos of the president's huddle with LDS leaders for less than 30 seconds, and pool reporters were held in a different part of the hotel without any access to the participants.

"Even in what seems like a photo opportunity, it's important for the writers, producers and radio reporters to see it, too," says Christi Parsons, a Los Angeles Times White House reporter and president of the correspondents' association. "That's why the WHCA is constantly advocating for greater news media access to the president, the White House and the people's business."

Parsons says the correspondents' association board will soon unveil a list of recommended practices for this and future administrations to ensure that a full pool of journalists, photographers and videographers can be included in presidential coverage.

Because of the widespread demand for coverage of the president's actions, White House correspondents take turns in smaller groups, known as pools, shadowing the president and sharing their descriptions and notes, photographs and video with fellow journalists. But the pool's access to the president is closely guarded by White House wranglers. The correspondents' association has complained before about lack of access to the president, including when he recently met with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the news media was barred from seeing the two chat.

tburr@sltrib.com

Editor's note: Burr is a member of White House Correspondents' Association and was part of the pool covering the president's Utah visit. He does not sit on the association's board.

 

 

 

 

 

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